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Eur J Endocrinol. 1998 Jul;139(1):72-7.

Preoperative localization of suspicious parathyroid adenomas by assay of parathyroid hormone in needle aspirates.

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Dipartimento di Endocrinologia e Metabolismo, Ortopedia e Traumatologia, Medicina del Lavoro, Università di Pisa, Italy.



To determine the usefulness of parathyroid hormone (PTH) measurement in needle aspirates of a suspicious neck mass to confirm its parathyroid nature in patients with primary hyperparathyroidism.


Thirty-three patients with surgically proved primary hyperparathyroidism were submitted to neck ultrasound (US), parathyroid scintigraphy, and assay of PTH in the aspirate (PTHa) of the suspicious cervical mass.


Based on the results of neck US and parathyroid scintigraphy, patients were divided into two groups. Group 1: 16 patients (seven with nodular goiter) with concordant positive US and scintigraphic results. In all but one patient, PTHa was detectable and often markedly elevated (> 1000 pg in 12 patients, between 292 pg and 803 pg in three patients and 53 pg in one patient). The patient with undetectable PTHa had a small lower left parathyroid adenoma (8x8x10 mm). Group 2: 17 patients (12 with nodular goiter) with discordant US and scintigraphic results. PTHa established the parathyroid nature of the mass in 13 cases (> 1000 pg in 8 patients, between 501 pg and 953 pg in three patients and 90 and 79 pg in two patients): 11 of these had a suspected lesion by US examination but the scintigraphy results were negative; two had a mass that gave positive scintigraphy results but was of uncertain origin according to US: in both cases an intrathyroidal parathyroid adenoma was found. PTHa was undetectable in four cases (three with nodular goiter): all of these had equivocal US results, and three had positive scans and one a negative scan.


Assay of PTHa is a simple method and should be useful for confirming the parathyroid nature of a cervical mass in patients with discordant or non-diagnostic US and scintigraphic results.

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